Microsoft to adopt app store guiding principles for Windows, but not Xbox

Credit: Microsoft

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In a thinly veiled shot at Apple's App Store, Microsoft has adopted 10 guiding principles that it will apply to its Microsoft Store on Windows 10.

Microsoft has been critical of Apple's App Store and developer guidelines, specifically as they relate to the company's Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming service.

On Thursday, Microsoft published a list of principles that it says it will adopt for its Microsoft Store as a way to show it will "practice what we preach."

Some of the principles include not blocking rival app stores from Windows, not barring apps with alternate payment systems, and charging "reasonable fees that reflect the competition we face from other app stores on Windows."

"For software developers, app stores have become a critical gateway to some of the world's most popular digital platforms," Microsoft wrote. "We and others have raised questions and, at times, expressed concerns about app stores on other digital platforms."

On the other hand, Microsoft won't be applying those same principles to its Xbox system, claiming that "game consoles are specialized devices optimized for a particular use."

"Console makers such as Microsoft invest significantly in developing dedicated console hardware but sell them below cost or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the significance of the platform and the business model, we have more work to do to establish the right set of principles for game consoles," the company wrote.

The guiding principles that Microsoft says it will adopt are inspired and build upon the work of the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit comprised of technology companies and advocates that push for freedom and choice and competition.

Some of the principles include ones that seem specifically aimed at Apple's guidelines, including allowing third-party app stores and not using an app's data to compete with them. Its members of the Coalition include companies that have had dust ups with Apple in the past, including Basecamp and Epic Games.

Microsoft executives have previously raised concerns about Apple's App Store policies to antitrust investigators. Company president Brad Smith has called for a formal antitrust review of the app marketplace, but doesn't believe that the Xbox game store needs similar review.

Similarly, the two companies are in the midst of a dustup due to Apple's prohibition of cloud-based streaming platforms. Microsoft has accused Apple of treating gaming apps "differently," and even after Apple loosened rules, the Windows maker said that they still make for a "bad experience."